New holiday lights contest coming to Elgin, East and West Dundee

Updated 11/20/2020 2:14 PM

With many community events on hold this year, Explore Elgin Area is hoping to start a new tradition with a holiday lights contest.

"What we're hoping to do is offer families a safe environment to be out celebrating the holidays, but also give them the opportunity to explore the communities around them that normally they might be too busy to do," said Krisilee Murphy, executive director of Explore Elgin Area. "This year we all have a little extra time."


The contest will feature homes and businesses in Elgin as well as East and West Dundee. Explore Elgin Area, also known as the Elgin Area Convention Visitors Bureau, represents 10 communities in the Fox Valley area.

Prizes will be awarded in both residential and business categories. Winners will be chosen by public online voting. An interactive map will be available once registration ends.

"We're using a Google map, so everyone will be able to go right through the website to plan their trip and then follow their directions and it shows them exactly where to go," Murphy said.

There will also be a scavenger hunt with prizes where people will have to find details on random locations.

The contest is for exterior decorations only and the deadline to register a home or business is Nov. 30. There is no cost to enter. Gift cards from local businesses will be awarded to first, second and third place winners in the residential categories.

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The first place business winners will receive a professional photo shoot and a marketing campaign. Second and third place will receive the marketing campaign, which is done by Explore Elgin Area.

The idea for the event came after Murphy talked with some people from the city of Elgin about the success of the Little Park of Horrors this Halloween, which was a drive-through event held in lieu of the annual Nightmare on Chicago Street.

While this is a pandemic pivot, Murphy said she thinks it could turn in to an annual event.

"I think this is something we could easily continue to grow upon and include more of our other neighboring communities," she said. "Everybody loves to look at holiday lights and we get to help small businesses as well."

For more information and to register, go to


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